Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


childhood to adolescence, curiosity and foresight develop, and a
beginning can be made with the study of science. For this there
are two starting-points : one from the boy's interest in the world
around him (Geography), the other from his interest in the sun
(Astronomy), the two converging later towards the underlying
principles of Physics. The object is not to give him knowledge,
but the taste and capacity for acquiring it; and the method is
that of personal discovery. " He is not to learn science : he is
to find it out for himself." Along with this, by way of social
training, goes the learning of the carpenter's craft, to stimulate
the mind through manual dexterity, and to make the boy in-
dependent of any change of fortune, (d) With adolescence the
real education begins, just at the time when ordinary systems of
education end. The first lesson the youth has to learn at this stage
is the control of the passions, now surging up in the soul, by the
acquirement of social sentiments. At eighteen, he comes to the
study of men as they appear in history and makes his first
acquaintance with the abstractions of religion. At twenty, he
enters society, and learns the tact needed for social relations
from great literature (especially the classics) and from the theatre.
Then he meets the ideal woman, goes on his travels to study
politics and see the world, and finally marries. His education is
at an end.

It is a first principle of natural education, as Rousseau under-
stands it, that sex should be taken into account in the upbringing
of boys and girls. According to him, the nature of the two sexes
is fundamentally different from the very beginning, and that
makes necessary a corresponding difference in their education.
The view he takes is that sex is only an incident in the life of the
man, whereas a woman is always a woman ; for which reason he
would have the boy educated to be a complete human being with
a world-wide interest, and let the girl be trained exclusively for
wifehood and motherhood. It is a significant illustration of his
point of view that his only discussion of the education of girls
comes near the end of the Emile, where he has brought the hero
of his educational romance to the time of life when he is ready for
marriage, and some account has to be given of the upbringing of
Sophie, the girl worthy to be married to this paragon. In view of
tltat, we are scarcely surprised when Rousseau says that " the
whole education of woman should be relative to man.*'